Los Angeles And San Diego School Districts Will Be Online-Only This Fall

Los Angeles and San Diego public schools have opted to resume classes remotely in the fall

Despite the fact that school supplies have started populating the aisles of stores, many school districts haven’t officially made a plan for the 2020-2021 school year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Health and education experts as well as politicians and parents are very divided when it comes to what is best for students in terms of their physical and mental well-being. However, two of the country’s largest school districts have officially made their decision, which could influence other districts to follow in their same direction.

On Monday, California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — announced that their instruction will be remote-only in the fall, due to the current surge of coronavirus cases. In total the districts enroll about 825,000 students.

“There’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish,” Austin Beutner, the school superintendent in Los Angeles, explained to the New York Times.

A joint statement was released by Los Angeles and San Diego districts. In it, they explained that in addition to finding recommendations by various organizations vague and contradictory, they couldn’t overlook the disturbing increase of cases in the cities.

“Those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” they wrote.

However, the districts do plan on resuming in-person classes at some point in the year, “as soon as public health conditions allow,” the statement read.

“The right way to reopen schools is to make sure there’s a robust system of testing and contact tracing to mitigate the risk for all in the school community,” Beutner said in a video address Monday.

Over the weekend, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) slammed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ appearances on Fox News and CNN  championing kids returning to “learning full-time” in person by the fall. Pressley, a U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’s 7th congressional district, tweeted to DeVos, who has adamantly supported Trump’s plan to promptly resume in-class learning.

“@BetsyDeVosED you have no plan. Teachers, kids and parents are fearing for their lives. You point to a private sector that has put profits over people and claimed the lives of thousands of essential workers. I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics is one of the groups who maintain the importance of in-class learning. “Evidence from spring 2020 school closures points to negative impacts on learning. Children and adolescents also have been placed at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from physical or sexual abuse, substance use, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation,” they explain in a press release accompanying their newly released guidelines. “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

However, they later backpedaled on their statement, adding that “we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff.”

“Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics. We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it,” they added.

Many health experts as well as parents — and even officials from the CDC — are concerned about the potential spread of the virus in schools. In a recent internal report from the organization, published by the New York Times, the CDC dubs schools, the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus.

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Teachers Union President ‘Dares’ Trump To Sit In Class Mid-Pandemic

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, tells CNN that schools can only reopen if they can do so safely — Trump disagrees

On Wednesday, July 8, Donald Trump not only threatened to cut school funding if they don’t reopen in the fall, but that he “disagreed” with the CDC’s safety guidelines for reopening classrooms. “I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!” he tweeted.

A day after Trump announced unwillingness to give schools the proper funding to reopen safely, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, went on CNN to stress why reopening schools with proper safety precautions is an absolute must. “This isn’t a bar. We’re talking about second graders. I had 39 sixth graders one year in my class. I double-dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we’re going to bring our kids back safely,” Garcia said.

Garcia also pointed out that the Trump administration felt perfectly justified handing out businesses loans so companies wouldn’t need to lay employees off or shut down entirely. Yet, when it comes to funding schools, the administration is not so much on board. “One of the things that we know is that when Shake Shack needed some money, the Congress joined hands, sang Kumbaya and threw money at businesses so they wouldn’t have to lay people off. There is a bill sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk right now called the HEROES Act, passed by the House, which has billions of dollars dedicated to schools so we could do this right,” Garcia said. However, the bill was immediately dismissed and considered “dead on arrival.”

Many teachers and parents want the schools to reopen. Staffers want to continue working and spending time with their students, and parents are exhausted playing teacher while simultaneously working. But the point is this: If the Trump administration feels like allocating the proper budget to the safe reopening of schools is too big of an ask, then reopening schools is a dangerous plan that will put millions more lives at risk.

One Twitter user echoed what Garcia had to say, and tweeted, “Let’s see Donald Trump sit in a classroom of 35 kindergarteners who are picking their noses and putting their fingers in their mouth all day. Let’s see him sit there for 1 full school day. Then he can chime in.”

They added, “To be clear, Democrats are not advocating for schools to remain shut down nationwide. They are advocating for precautions to be taken and for parents to have the option of virtual schools. Stop trying to make this a political issue. It’s about our children, not your re-election.”

Another Twitter user pleaded, “Parents shouldn’t have to make a choice between working and feeding their families or sending their children into an unsafe school situation. Make the schools safe and fully fund them.”

Trump is allegedly still thinking the plan over and feels like the administration has time to make a final decision. During an interview with Nextstar on Tuesday he said, “Well, we have a long time to think about the school stuff. Because, you know. But we want to have the schools open. I would say that when we talk about the fall, that seems like a long time. It’s a long time.”

However, according to CNN, many school districts in the south start their school year in just a few weeks. And a recent model from the University of Washington forecasts that the COVID-19 death toll will increase to over 210,000 deaths by November. As we nervously wait for a plan from the Trump administration, the math keeps getting more grim.

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CDC Cowers To Trump, Will Issue New Guidelines To Open Schools

After being assailed by Donald Trump on Twitter, the CDC is walking back their school reopening guidelines

Donald Trump is hellbent on schools reopening come fall, and he’s using social media bullying to get his way. Mere hours after the current POTUS attacked the Center for Disease Control’s current reopening guidelines, the health protection agency seemed to cave to Trump’s demands — despite surging coronavirus cases in some parts of the country.

During a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at the Department of Education on Wednesday afternoon, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield emphasized the CDC’s guidelines were not intended as a “rationale to keep schools closed.”

To that end, explained Vice President Mike Pence, the C.D.C. will be softening their previous recommendations. “Well, the president said today, we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Pence said. “That’s the reason why next week, the C.D.C. is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”

Clarified Dr. Redfield, “We are prepared to work with each school, each jurisdiction to help them use the different strategies that we proposed that help do this safely so they come up with the optimal strategy for those schools.”

The C.D.C.’s current guidelines encourage cloth face coverings, handwashing, staying home when sick, cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, providing adequate personal hygiene supplies, posting information signs in highly visible areas, minimizing shared objects, keeping doors and windows open to facilitate ventilation, staggered scheduling, utilizing distance learning when applicable, and more.

On Wednesday morning, Trump trashed the Centers for Disease Control’s suggested school reopening guidelines, tweeting, “I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them to be open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”

He went on to threaten the withholding of federal aid to schools that do not fully reopen this fall. “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children and families,” Trump’s Twitter tirade continued. “May cut off funding if not open!”

However, there are a number of caveats concerning Trump’s logic. According to experts, European countries like Germany reopened their schools only after getting the spread of coronavirus under control. On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert — emphasized that the U.S. handle on the coronavirus outbreak is “really not good.”

As of Wednesday, the U.S. has nearly 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 50,000 of those being confirmed in the last 24 hours. Forty-one jurisdictions report more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19. California, Florida, and New York City all have more than 200,000 confirmed cases.

According to Dr. Fauci, spikes in positive cases are likely linked to cities and states reopening too quickly. “A series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up in the sense of getting back to some form of normality has led to a situation where we now have record-breaking cases,” he told the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Fauci also cautioned against comparing the U.S. to Europe in regard to the pandemic. “The European Union as an entity, it went up and then came down to baseline. Now they’re having little blips, as you might expect, as they try to reopen,” he said, pointing out that the U.S. is still firmly in the first wave. “We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”

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Supreme Court Says Companies With Religious Objections Don’t Need To Pay For Birth Control

SCOTUS gave the Trump administration a victory by allowing religious employers to deny employees birth control coverage

As part of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, most employers weren’t allowed to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to their employees. Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that a new regulation from the Trump administration was proper in allowing companies with religious or moral objections to deny employees no-cost birth control.

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s regulation that gave latitude to employers when it comes to providing no-cost birth control as part of their healthcare plans. The New York Times reports that government estimates suggest that this ruling could mean 70,000 to 126,000 women will lose their birth control coverage.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the only ones to dissent.

“We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.

The ruling is, of course, a victory for Trump, whose administration sought to expand the types of employers who could refuse to provide contraceptives as part of their health care coverage for moral and religious reasons. Planned Parenthood says nine out of 10 women will seek some kind of birth control in the course of their lives.

In their dissenting opinion, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg wrote, “Today for the first time, the court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree” and “leaves women workers to fend for themselves” in seeking birth control.

In the majority opinion, Justice Thomas argued that the Department of Health and Human Services, “has virtually unbridled discretion to decide what counts as preventive care and screenings,” and that authority “leaves its discretion equally unchecked in other areas, including the ability to identify and create exemptions from its own guidelines.”

The National Women’s Law Center condemned the ruling saying in part, “This decision will disproportionately harm low-wage workers, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others who already face barriers to care.”

Because of the ACA provision, NWLC says nearly 61 million women have birth control coverage without out-of-pocket costs.

In a 2014 Supreme Court case involving Hobby Lobby, the Court ruled that private and closely-held companies could be exempt from providing birth control based on religious or moral grounds. The Trump admin rule greatly expands that to also allow publicly traded companies and large universities to cite their religious or moral objections in providing contraceptive coverage to their employees.

The Trump administration regulation is an attempt to deliver on a 2016 campaign promise to allow employers more freedom to refuse to provide birth control coverage. Trump said employers should not be “bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs.”

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Trump Threatens To Cut Funding If Schools Don’t Fully Reopen

Donald Trump threatens to cut federal funding from schools that don’t reopen soon

Since the pandemic began, many have wondered and worried about schools reopening and what will happen for the 2020-2021 school year. New York City just announced that students will stagger attendance and only attend in-school classes one to three days a week and Florida said that they’re requiring all schools to reopen in August, though most schools, states, and districts nationwide have yet to announce firm plans for the 2020-2021 school year. However, many schools may not have a choice to reopen or not, if Trump has anything to do with it. After all-caps tweeting on Monday that “schools must reopen in the fall,” Trump is now threatening to “cut off funding” to schools who do not follow his dictatorial mandate.

After complaining on Twitter on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, that the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools were “very tough & expensive” and “impractical,” Trump threatened to meet with the CDC, and now the CDC is changing their school reopening practices to be less “tough,” which we can only assume means they will be less safe as well.

Then, Trump complained that other European countries with fewer coronavirus cases than America have opened their schools and whined that America isn’t doing the same. He also said some nonsense about democrats not wanting schools to open before the election, seemingly unaware that states with Republican governors haven’t opened their schools yet either, but then, Trump threatened to “cut off funding” to schools that don’t reopen this fall, which is terrifying.

Also, when we colloquially say, “how are schools going to reopen,” we’re talking about school years that literally start next month. Next month, while the country is seeing the largest spikes in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The decision to reopen schools will ultimately be made by local and state leaders, but who knows how they will react if Trump cuts government funding for their schools. “We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools,” he said during a roundtable discussion at the White House on Tuesday. “Get open in the fall. We want your schools open.”

Trump also doubled down on his bizarre logic that democrats, and Joe Biden specifically, want to keep schools closed for political gain. “They think it’s gonna be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed,” he said.

As the CDC is reportedly preparing their new guidelines for reopening and Vice President Pence doles out vague advice to local leaders to “tailor their plans” so kids can go back to school while simultaneously saying that the “CDC’s recommendations are [not] intended to replace state and local rules and guidance,” there’s no true guidance on how exactly anyone is supposed to safely send their kid back to school this fall, and unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like we can count of the President or the administration to lead the way.

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NYC Will Not Fully Reopen Schools In The Fall

Classroom attendance will be limited to only one to three days a week in NYC for the upcoming school year

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that as far as the upcoming school year goes, public schools in New York City won’t be fully reopening in September. In-person classroom attendance will be limited to only one to three days a week to help stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Aside from Florida, many schools nationwide haven’t announced firm plans for the fall. With NYC schools being the largest public school system in the U.S. (approximately 1,800 schools are in the system), they very well could be pioneering the path of what a full school year looks like during a pandemic.

Per the New York Times, the staggered school schedule is likely designed to accommodate social distancing between students while inside the building. Unfortunately, this type of schedule will heavily impact parents’ work schedules and limited childcare options.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced the “blended model” plan, which consists of a combination of in-school and remote learning, according to the New York Post.

“For the vast majority of kids and the vast majority of schools, you will be going to school to either two days a week or three days a week, depending on the week,” de Blasio said during a press briefing about the matter. During the days the students are not physically in school, they’ll be remote learning. Families in NYC public schools also have the option to switch to full-time remote learning if they’re more comfortable with that.

“For the 2020-2021 school year, it will look different,” Carranza said. “Students will return in September in a blended learning model or an online learning model, if they choose.”

Though this option is currently how many universities and colleges around the country are planning to operate for 2020-2021, it still presents challenges. In New York schools, for example, many of the buildings are over a century old and have poor air circulation systems and cramped quarters. Teachers union leaders have expressed concern over the amount of available personal protective gear and school nurses in order to reopen safely, but city schools say they’ll be deep-cleaning each night and providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant in all classrooms and shared spaces. Budget cuts across the country could present a problem in supply and demand in terms of disinfectant and PPE, however.

The staggered schedule model means that one group of students could attend school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the second group attending Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays can be alternated between the two groups, de Blasio explained.

More crowded schools will break those groups into three rather than two, with students attending in-person on fewer days. While the in-person instruction likely won’t be consistent in terms of days, the goal is for NYC students to have five days of in-person learning every three weeks.

The decision to model the upcoming school year this way was based on a survey sent to parents from the Department of Education. The results showed 53 percent of parents felt “very or mostly comfortable” with sending their kid back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty-four percent were “a little comfortable” and 22 percent were “not at all comfortable.”

Only half of parents and students grades 6-12 were “very or mostly comfortable” wearing face masks every day in school next year.

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Trump Shares His Opinion About Schools Opening In Fall That No One Asked For

Literally no one asked Trump’s opinion on whether schools should open this fall but that didn’t stop him from giving it

States are starting to move forward with sharing their ideas and plans for how the 2020-2021 school year will look amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While considering your family’s options, did it occur to you to wonder what President Trump, a man with zero expertise on the subject, had to say? Probably not, but he’s sharing his pearls of wisdom anyway.

“SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” the president shrieked in all caps on Twitter today. I mean, this is extremely on-brand for him — literally shouting his uneducated opinion as though it were not only fact, but a declaration not to be questioned.

What the president is missing here with his dopey blurting and total lack of nuance is how much there is to consider before opening schools this fall. In fact, administrators and teachers all over the country are having that discussion as we speak, and frankly, none of the possibilities are perfect for students, their parents, or teachers and staff. There’s so much to consider as we figure out how to navigate our children’s education mid-pandemic, but literally yelling that schools “MUST” open this fall is about as helpful as tits on a bull.

Thing is, the scientific jury is still very much out on how easily kids are able to spread the novel virus to adults, who have been statistically shown to suffer its ill effects far more often than the younger population. Which isn’t to say that kids are free of risk — a number of cases of a disturbing inflammatory illness possibly linked to COVID-19 have popped up in children and so far, doctors are struggling to figure it out.

With so many unknowns and literal lives at stake, it seems a bit… oh, I don’t know, blindingly ignorant, short-sighted, and dangerous to just shout that schools MUST open in the fall. Oh, and PS: forget fall — I live in the south and our district’s start date is slated for early August. As COVID cases in some southern states (including mine) continue to skyrocket, it’s hard to imagine how our kids and their teachers will safely return to the classroom for in-person instruction in barely a month’s time.

But Trump doesn’t seem remotely concerned, y’all! Which is just awesome as I legit lose sleep while weighing the risks and benefits of either keeping my middle school kids home, isolated, and lonely, or sending them for in-person instruction (our district is offering both options) where they may be exposed to the virus, making themselves or my husband and I (or all of us!) seriously ill.

Bottom line, Trump tweeting this fully unhelpful nonsense is ridiculous and he’s clearly pandering to his base while not considering what a full return to school will mean for all involved. It comes as no surprise that the Narcissist in Chief doesn’t seem to give a shit about the health and safety of millions, but it sure would be nice if he did.

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Cops In Riot Gear Use Force At Peaceful Violin Vigil For Elijah McClain

Jarring new video shows riot cops storming a peaceful protest in honor of slain 23-year-old Elijah McClain

The police department in Aurora, Colorado is once again under scrutiny for the use of excessive force. What started as a poignant homage to 23-year-old Elijah McClain on Saturday devolved into chaos as police descended on the crowd in full riot gear. A massage therapist known for playing violin to soothe shelter animals, McClain died last year after being detained and placed in a carotid hold by Aurora PD.

Now, nearly a year after his death, Aurora Police are once again being questioned over their tactics. Mark Sallinger, a reporter with 9News, captured the upsetting scene. “As police in riot gear were spraying protestors with pepper spray and using batons to push them back at the #ElijahMcClain protest in Aurora today, this man began to play the violin,” Sallinger tweeted. “One of the most surreal scenes I’ve ever seen. Music is powerful.”

In the footage, an unidentified violinist strikes up “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range as cops in riot gear push peaceful demonstrators back. Photos of the clash show the cops using pepper spray and smoke bombs, both of which the department has since confirmed.

Police officials say the chemical weapons were deployed in response to protestors throwing water bottles at the officers and arming themselves with sticks and rocks. According to Sentinel Colorado, Aurora police also deployed four rounds of rubber bullets against the crowd (although that claim remains unsubstantiated at this point).

Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Sallinger speculated that police were provoked when protestors “moved the fence barrier blocking Aurora PD headquarters.” At that point, the department says, “smoke was used to try and encourage people to move to the safe area.” Shortly after, an officer on loudspeaker declared the protest to be an “unlawful assembly.”

Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

McClain was walking home from a local convenience store in Aurora, Colorado, on the night of August 24, 2019, when he was confronted by police. Reportedly responding to a call about a man who “looked sketchy,” Aurora PD placed McClain in a now-banned carotid hold. Fifteen minutes in, he was given a powerful dose of the sedative ketamine.

Video shows his body was limp when placed on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. He survived two heart attacks en route to a nearby hospital, was pronounced brain dead three days later, and died on August 30.

McClain was never suspected of or implicated in any crime in connection to the incident. The three police officers involved claim he reached for one of their holstered handguns (while being pinned down with disturbingly excessive physical force).

Video footage is limited, as the officers say all three of their body cams fell off at some point in the struggle. The officers — identified as Aurora PD’s Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt, and Randy Roedema — were placed on administrative leave but have all since been reinstated.

However, facing the renewed uproar over the injustice of McClain’s death, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado re-opened the case. To that end, Polis appointed the state’s attorney general, Phil Weister, to re-examine the details surrounding McClain’s death. He also gave Weiser the authority to file charges, depending on what the re-examination reveals. “Elijah McClain should be alive today,” he said in a statement, “and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern.”

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White House Economist Says ‘We Just Have To Live’ With Coronavirus

White House economist Larry Kudlow says “we just have to live” with coronavirus and why is anyone listening to this non-expert?

As coronavirus cases surge across the U.S., White House officials continue to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic which is infuriating at best and dangerous at worst. Clearly prioritizing economic health over physical health, states have reopened most, if not all, of their non-essential businesses, and only a smattering of states have made face masks mandatory, so it will come as no surprise that White House official Larry Kudlow, who is the National Economic Council director said that we all “just have to live” with coronavirus. Uhhh, K?

“There is no second wave coming. It’s just hot spots,” Kudlow, who is not a medical expert, said on CNBC on Thursday, June 25, 2020. “They send in CDC teams, we’ve got the testing procedures, we’ve got the diagnostics, we’ve got the PPE. And so I really think it’s a pretty good situation.”

He then went on to say, “We’re going to have hot spots, no question. We just have to live with that.”

Aside from mostly saying nonsense words like “they send in CDC teams” (whatever that means), let’s debunk the fact that it’s not actually a “pretty good situation” in the U.S. right now.

Kudlow also stated that, “I think nationwide the positivity rate is still quite low, well under 10%,” which isn’t accurate either because the CDC reports that the nationwide positivity rate (which means that out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) is exactly at 10%, not under, and in the hotspot states, it’s worse.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the positivity rate is 22.95% in Arizona, 16.15% in South Carolina, 16.11% in Mississippi, and 14.40% in Florida, to name a few. These extremely high positivity rates could have to do with the fact that these hot spot states might only be testing their sickest individuals and they need to ramp up testing overall to get a more accurate picture, however, The Washington Post‘s data proves that seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — are reporting the highest count of coronavirus hospitalizations since the pandemic began and Arizona hospital beds are filling up as health care personnel say they are running out of resources and running out of doctors.

Also, because the CDC has been testing people for COVID-19 antibodies as well as simply testing to discover who has the virus, the CDC now believes that the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is about 10 times greater than expected.

“Our best estimate right now is that for every [COVID-19] case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said on a call with reporters Thursday (via NBC News).

Also, a simple look at any graph (like this one using New York Times data) of coronavirus cases in the U.S. will tell you that we certainly did not flatten the curve.

New York Times

The only good news is that new reported deaths by day in the United States are dropping. But to get back to Kudlow, no, overall it’s not a “pretty good situation.”

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NY, NJ, & CT To Quarantine Visitors From COVID-19 Hotspot States

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut announce 14-day quarantine for any visitors coming from coronavirus hotspot areas

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will now collectively enforce a two-week quarantine period on anyone traveling to the region from one of the states experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases. In a joint press conference on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the new travel restriction in an attempt to keep the coronavirus pandemic in the Northeast region under control.

“The Northeast region has taken this seriously and that’s allowed us, as a region, to power through and get out positivity rates very low,” Lamont said during the press conference. “But we’re not an island. As we look at the rest of the country, we’ve seen not just spikes, but community spread.”

According to the travel advisory, the impacted states are those “with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average,” though the list of states subject to the quarantine will be updated regularly as coronavirus cases rise and fall across the U.S.

Currently, the nine “coronavirus hotspot” states that are subject to the 14-day travel quarantine include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah, and Texas. “We welcome visitors but only if they self-quarantine from highly infectious states,” Lamont added. Relatedly, South Carolina is also facing another restriction as United Airlines just announced that it will “temporarily suspend service” to Myrtle Beach “due to demand conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The quarantine will begin tonight, June 24, 2020, at midnight and this basically means that if you travel from Florida to New York tomorrow, you will be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in New York.

In Connecticut, the 14-day quarantine will be voluntary and you will not be fined if you violate the order, however, Lamont said that “if we find that’s not working, if we find that people are abusing that, we’ll consider some stricter measures for enforcement.”

However, if you fail to self-isolate for 14 days after entering New York, you will be hit with a fine that Governor Cuomo says can range anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 dollars. “If you’re violating a quarantine, you can be subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine,” Cuomo said. “You could have to pay the costs of quarantine. There are also fines that can go along with violating the quarantine.”

Cuomo stated that all lodging facilities in New York will be made aware of the new quarantine and there will be signs at the airport and on the highway reminding travelers to quarantine. Cuomo added that if you aren’t following the quarantine in New York, you could be found by hotel clerks or police pulling over motorists to enforce the order. New Jersey’s governor has not yet announced how he will enforce the order in the Garden State.

Other states like Vermont have quietly enacted quarantine rules for travelers and I would not be shocked if more states and airlines begin to follow suit as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus.

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